What has changed with Dynamics 365 Business Central
Having gone through the many changes in the life of Dynamics 365 Business Central, I have been reflecting on this latest change to a ‘proper’ cloud solution. Functionally, it has been a side step; no separate cloud version, no new code base, no separate client to configure. So, I question why I feel that this is such a new ‘thing’.
On reflection, part of it is that the interface has changed and is simply accessed via a browser (or a mobile device App); and I am so used to a separate client. Part is the fact that there is a new and more modern development environment (that also keeps the previous – yet still efficient – way of making changes). Part is the fact that you cannot see the code in some of the extensions (us NAV / Navision people have always been in the privileged position of seeing all the code!).
However, these are just parts of the answer. My overriding reason for this feeling so new (even though the product is familiar) is that this move to the cloud is a new way of delivering connected business systems. It is the way PowerBI can sit inside Dynamics 365 Business Central, on how Extensions can so easily be found and added to your system, increasing what the system can do for you instantly. It all just seems so much faster, more immediate, more interactive, more tangible in terms of getting benefits to the customer on their terms.
I started in Pegasus Opera and then in 1994 blown away by the character-based Navision 3.5x (you could say Business Centrals 1st name – in the UK at least – was navi 3.56). After that, we deployed several NAVI 356 projects and worked on putting the beta release of Navision Financials (the first Windows version) through to production. I watched Navision A/S buy a rival (Damgaard, who had created Axapta; now Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations). I was pleased when they moved from a native database technology to SQL Server and enthralled when they were bought out by Microsoft. After a few name changes by Microsoft and “Project Green” wobble, it was named Dynamics NAV.
I was then puzzled by the effort Microsoft put in to change the architecture from two-tier Client Server (Client ‘talks’ to the Database Server) to a three-tier (Client talks to the Server who then talks to the Database) one, but it all made sense when Microsoft showcased the cloud ready Dynamics 365 for Financials, Business Edition. Finally, in 2018 we have its current name Dynamics 365 Business Central. Which would – had names not changed – be Navision Financials 12.
As I reflect on the above, it has been a journey, and I’m grateful to have been able to work with it all these years. Ultimately the product I fell in love with – is that too strong a sentiment? – has not been diluted over the years but has grown stronger and won over millions of users. You can trace the design back to navi 3.56, and it does not make it feel old. As an ode its reliability, one customer is still only just moving away from this original version. This journey has crafted a product that is refreshed and re-invigorated for a modern, fast-paced and more demanding world.
I am increasingly looking forward to working in this new world and seeing how the Common Data Service, Cortana Intelligence, Power Apps and Flow can add to the customer engagement and experience of Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Refreshingly, it is a tale where a long history has been coupled with visionary innovation to meet today’s business needs. In this increasingly disposable world, it is wonderful that we can look at something so long standing with enthusiasm; and where customers can still upgrade to the latest version and enjoy the journey as well.